An encouraging story of Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o concerning his health!

“There is something about being a public figure in leadership that compels one to accept that one’s life and health is always a public issue, and I have been known to share my health stories openly in ways that help others to confront their own issues and to take appropriate action to better their health. I want the best for all Kenyans.

In November 2016, while being driven to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for an early morning flight, we had an accident on Kiambu Road. On the face of it, nobody was injured, although the car was badly damaged. I, therefore, continued with my journey to Kisumu without worrying much about any injury whatsoever. This was a terrible mistake on my part, as I would realise much later.

Lesson learnt: Whenever you have an accident, don’t take anything for granted. Please go for a check up immediately.

One morning, while in Kisumu in February 2017 as the governor campaigns were heating up, I woke up to find that I could not lift my left leg out of the bed. I panicked. I called my doctor at the Aga Khan Hospital who asked me to rush to his clinic immediately. His first suspicion was that I had a blood clot somewhere in my leg. He ordered an ultra sound examination, which found no blood clot. He then ordered an MRI examination that revealed a thin hair like crack at the top of the hipbone which, according to him, needed closer checking by an orthopedic surgeon to determine what it was. In the meantime, he gave me some drugs to ease the movement of the leg and the pain, as I headed to Nairobi for consultation with an orthopedic surgeon.

At the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi, an X-ray examination was carried out on my hip. The surgeon was not quite sure what to make of the pictures but he observed some early degeneration at the top of the hipbone, which could indicate poor supply of blood to the bone. He advised this could cause pain as the bone could easily interfere with nerves in the area, hence the need for painkillers to ease the discomfort.

The real solution would, however, be a hipbone replacement as soon as I would be in a position to do so.

For almost a year, due to the constraints of the campaigns and election calendar, I have been surviving on painkillers, which have been regularly prescribed by my pain management doctor. Many may have observed me limping from time to time, as we struggled for the betterment of our county and country. Without going into much detail, I have all along been waiting for an opportune moment for the hip replacement surgery as the last solution to my problem. My doctors have always told me that it is not a very complicated surgery.

Nyong'o after surgery
Governor Prof Nyong’o after the surgical procedure

In many ways, it is more like repair work in a garage: Replacing an old part of a car with a new one. But the replacement must be the correct part, the mechanic must be a master of his work, and the greasing and oiling after the job is done must ensure all the joints fit and move smoothly.

All this now reminds me of a similar experience with my health not too long ago.

In July 2010, while I was Minister for Medical Services in the coalition government, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and I sought treatment at a leading cancer hospital at the University of California, San Francisco. I was encouraged by the support I got from Kenyans, especially fellow men who knew so little about prostate cancer — let alone the need for regular check ups so as to deal with necessary health issues. I am glad to inform all those who joined me on this journey that the treatment was successful as regular check ups and follow ups have shown since then. It is vital to have these check ups since various types of cancer, as, I pointed out in several articles I published after that, it can recur for diverse reasons. In my case, I thank God that I can now safely say that that beast was successfully laid to rest.

Again, following the advice of my doctors in this current episode, I decided to go back to San Francisco, where I had previously received treatment. All my health records are there and the doctors and hospitals consult closely and share all the health histories of their patients. It has worked out perfectly.

By the grace of God, I am already recovering from a 90-minute surgery a week ago, which involved an eight centimeters cut on my thigh as the hipbone was replaced with an artificial one.

Currently, I am on outpatient care involving nursing care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and weekly visits to the doctor to examine progress made. As soon as the doctor certifies me fit for travel, I will be heading home to join the gallant people of Kisumu in building the county, and the NASA compatriots in the struggle for electoral justice.

I am still taking pain control medicines, which are carefully given, and their effects measured on a 24-hour basis. The dosage is reduced or increased in accordance with the daily monitoring. I started walking within 24 hours and systematically feeling the pain going down. I’m making really encouraging progress, although I do have some really bad moments or days. Apparently, the effects of anesthesia can be quite horrible, even though it helps immensely in making surgery possible. But when you are under it, as long as I was, and depending on the amount of blood lost during surgery, recovery can be quite an ordeal.”

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